Brazil: Cerrado Peoples Work to Protect the Biome and Leave Poverty Behind
Feature Story | Oct 17 2013

Sustainable activities undertaken by indigenous, quilombola and other traditional Cerrado peoples will be funded by the World Bank and the Climate Investment Funds (CIF).

Ghana Set to Increase Community Engagement and Transform Forestry Sector
Press Release | Oct 01 2013

With African Development Bank support, Ghana has received $9.75 million approval from the FIP to undertake the Engaging Local Communities in REDD+/Enhancement of Carbon Stocks project to help reduce deforestation and forest degradation, increase carbon stocks, and reduce poverty by engaging communities in land management approaches that generate financial and environmental benefits for them.

AfDB Approves US $21.50 Million Funding for Climate Change Mitigation Project in DRC
Press Release | Sep 16 2013

The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group on Wednesday, September 11, 2013 in Tunis approved a US $21.50-million FIP grant to finance climate change mitigation activities in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The project’s goal is to facilitate the reduction of GHG emissions from deforestation and forest degradation as well as help to reduce poverty in the Mbuji-Mayi (East Kasaï), Kananga (West Kasaï) and Kisangani (Orientale Province) basins.

Democratic Republic of Congo gets $21.5 million green light to transform its vast forests
Press Release | Aug 30 2013

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has won approval of a $21.5 million grant from the Climate Investment Funds (CIF) to jump-start sustainable management of its critically important forest sector to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen forest governance.

Ghana forest protection plan seeks to bring communities on board
In the News | Aug 21 2013
Members of the Atikpo settler community near Abutia in the Volta Region do brisk business on the fringes of the Kalakpa

By Maxwell Awumah originally published August 15, 2013 on Thomson Reuters Foundation. Photo: Maxwell Awumah /TRF

ACCRA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Hopes are high in Ghana that financial support from the multilateral Climate Investment Funds will enable local people to play a part in preventing the country’s forest reserves from shrinking further, while earning a decent living at the same time.

Ghana’s forest resources have declined in recent decades, largely due to human economic activities including agricultural expansion, harmful farming practices, timber harvesting, urban growth, and mineral and mining exploitation.

Forest cover shrank from 7.5 million hectares in 1990 to just under 5 million hectares in 2010, with an annual net loss of around 115,000 hectares, according to a U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report from 2010.

Rural communities living close to forests have often been excluded from their management, which has led them to abandon their role as trustees of forest resources. And many efforts to regenerate forests have suffered from bad planning, as well as a lack of coordination and funding, experts say.

Charles Folovi, a 40-year-old farmer who lives on the fringes of the degraded Kalakpa game reserve near Ho, the capital of Volta Region, is optimistic that community members will welcome internationally-backed efforts to give them ownership of the forest reserve and enable them to contribute to its maintenance.  

Currently, the government owns the reserve, which is managed by the Ghana Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission. According to a report by the Forest Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG), illegal chainsaw milling, logging and harvesting amounts to 3.7 million cubic metres of wood per year, almost double the official allowance of 2 million cubic metres.

The 320 sq km reserve is under threat from encroachment, charcoal burning, uncontrolled farming, hunting, cattle ranching and perennial bushfires – a situation repeated in other parts of the country.

Attempts to put a stop to these activities have been futile, as the government is unwilling to resettle the land invaders. Wildlife guards provide some protection but there are too many illicit goings on for them to tackle, with some happening under cover of darkness.

“Unsustainable exploitation of forests in the reserve area has led to deforestation and degradation, thus decreasing environmental services, (and increasing) emissions of greenhouse gases and disturbance for animals,” park manager George Asamoah told Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Asamoah said well-planned interventions to improve forest management, make an inventory of resources and give local people ownership of land and trees would make his work easier because it would help reshape attitudes among those now carrying out illegal activities around the reserve.

BLUEPRINT FOR SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT

Ghana is to receive $50 million under the CIF Forest Investment Programme (FIP) to help address the causes of deforestation and create new models for forest management and benefit-sharing, as well as engaging the private sector and pooling knowledge. The project is due to run until 2016.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) and other partners, including the World Bank, plan to bring Ghana’s forest and land use programmes together, and identify investments that will prevent further deforestation.

Musah Abu-Juam, an officer with the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, said preparatory funding of $250,000 has been received to produce a report that will serve as a base to launch full-scale implementation of the FIP project.

“We are hopeful things are really moving fast and we are poised to come out with a blueprint that will bring sustainable management of the forest and its resources,” he said.

 Saeed Abdul Razak, an officer with the climate governance programme of Civic Response, a non-profit organisation, warned of a common dichotomy between interventions on paper - which often promise to help the poorest people - and practical implementation on the ground.

“But gauging from the enthusiasm build-up among major actors, we only hope for the best, and (that this will) eventually equip the local people with skills to own the resource and have a voice in sustainable forest management,” he said.

BENEFITS FOR LOCAL PEOPLE

The FIP aims to give Ghanaians a bigger role in managing forests in a way that supports climate-resilient economic development, and ensure they receive a fair share of the benefits.

Mafalda Duarte, chief climate change specialist and CIF coordinator at the AfDB, said $2.5 billion out of global CIF funding of $7.6 billion is dedicated to Africa, part of which will be targeted at “reducing pressure on natural forests through an integrated landscape approach”.

A separate project now nearing completion shows how community members can be successfully brought into the management of forest resources, as the FIP project is also hoping to do.

An inter-agency initiative by FORIG and Ghana’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, with $500,000 support from the International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO), has made significant progress in replanting degraded forest in the Ankasa area of Ghana’s Western Region.

Over 200 sq km of degraded forest have been restored thanks to the project, which began in 2009 and ends this year. The forest had suffered severe damage to its trees and animal population due to illicit human activities including logging, farming and hunting. But the situation has now improved.

It is hoped that the reforestation of the state-designated game reserve - which spans over 500 sq km and is home to elephants, monkeys and antelopes, as well as 300 different plant species -  will provide enough vegetation cover for game to thrive and attract more tourists.

Project leader Dominic D. Blay told Thomson Reuters Foundation the project is in its final phase of implementation, and has promoted the involvement of local people in key roles in governance and management systems, as well as determining the financial value of environmental services.

For more information, please contact:
Steven Shalita, CIF Communications
sshalita@worldbank.org

Can Cutting Trees Curb Emissions and Improve Incomes in Mexico?
In the News | Jul 25 2013
Machete in hand, a local man scores the bark of a gum tree to extract the resin that gives Mexican chewing gum its name: chicle.

By Talli Nauman originally published July 24, 2013 on Thomson Reuters Foundation. Photo: Talli Nauman/TRF

AN ANTONIO TUK, Mexico (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Not far from the site of the Cancun 2010 U.N. climate change summit, indigenous people in rural southeast Mexico are doing their part to staunch global warming.

They are perfecting Community Forestry Enterprises (CFEs) to establish long-term profitability through tree farming and related agricultural practices that protect the environment.

“Climate change is a serious problem in the world, caused by bad habits,” says Miguel Cante Chuc, president of the Ya’ax Sot Ot’ Yook’Ol Kaab Environmental Service-Providers Network. “We as Mayan people want to be sure it is reversed.”

The 9-year-old network consists of 12 Mayan jungle villages in the state of Quintana Roo on the Yucatan Peninsula, with the specific objective “to mitigate climate change and obtain financial resources.”

For all their good intentions, however, a big obstacle to success – one that they face together with hundreds of other communities like theirs across the country – is lack of access to loans for logging equipment and operations.

To ease that problem, Mexico’s government has created a Forest Investment Plan that will extend cut-rate credit lines from foreign lenders to support Community Forestry Enterprises.

The plan allows the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to administer a novel $6 million, 5-year technical assistance and micro-loan pilot project for local forest production projects.

Now in the design phase, Mexico’s trend-setting small-business loan assistance pilot aims to boost timber industry profits, foster community socio-economic stability, and ease problems associated with climate change.

Bank representatives hope the endeavor will be an example to the country and the world.

“It’s an innovative project offering the possibility to have something new and successful that’s never been done before,” says IDB Senior Climate Change Specialist Gloria Visconti.

It promises at least 60 CFEs will average a 6-percent increase in annual profits, garnering higher income for the 4,900 people involved in them, and providing indirect benefits to 10,680 community members. At the same time, it is expected to result in the capture of the equivalent of 28,610 tons of carbon.

WHY MATCH TREE FARMERS WITH BANKERS?

To understand why something like this was never done before and how it will work, it’s vital to consider Mexico’s peculiar land-tenure legacy.

After the hacienda system provoked peasant rebellion in the Mexican Revolution, the ensuing Constitution of 1917 provided safeguards against plantation exploitation by advancing one of the largest systems of communal land tenure in the world.

Land reform defined common property holdings for comunidades (traditional indigenous ancestral territories) and ejidos (parcels distributed to dispossessed peasants). In each of these units, community members elect officials and hold general assemblies to vote on land-use questions.

Today, communal landholders control the rights to a whopping 60 percent of Mexico’s forest lands, according to independent Mexican CFE specialist David Bray.  Some 13 million people live off these lands, about half of whom belong to the country’s 62 indigenous groups, according to the IDB.

Extensive research by Bray and other scientists has established that the local governance of many of Mexico’s forests has made community forestry undertakings more successful than either corporate concessions or protected areas in conserving natural resources, providing employment, and ensuring environmental services that combat global warming.

The combination of legal rights, traditional knowledge, and economic self-interest in Mexico’s community forestry model has made it a beacon for other countries seeking to stem poverty, deforestation and greenhouse gas proliferation.

Timber production in comunidades and ejidos generally is a community-wide endeavor. Alternatively, smaller groups form inside these communities to extract and market timber.

They are now learning that their natural resources could afford significantly more economic dividends to their mostly low-income residents, while helping compensate for industrialised countries’ failure to adhere to mandatory international commitments to reduce carbon emissions.

“Through a program of carbon capture, we can provide economic sustenance to our families, live in the jungle, use it, and produce more environmental services,” Cante Chuc says.

Looking over his shoulder he can see one of the 159 members of the Mayan indigenous community of San Antonio Tuk climbing a gum tree with a machete in hand to score its bark for extraction of the resin that gives Mexican chewing gum the name chicle.

The work of the chicleros, who harvest and make gum, complements softwood lumbering and a protected area set-aside in San Antonio Tuk’s diversification and management plan for a robust woodlot and for greenhouse gas reductions. Tapping the gum tree and processing the product provides income to relieve economic pressure to fell precious and endangered tropical hardwoods like mahogany.

BREAKING WITH ‘BUSINESS AS USUAL’

The principle climate changing greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, is absorbed by healthy jungles and forests, partially offsetting emissions released by burning fossil-fuels elsewhere. Contrary to popular belief, managed cutting of forest for timber can actually increase the carbon-absorbing capacity of the trees, because lumber products store the carbon absorbed from the atmosphere (as long as they are not burned), and new growth replaces felled trees, Bray notes.

Yet the efforts of communal landholders have rarely been met with offers of credit, partly because the ejidos and comunidades by definition hold their properties in trusts that have not been considered equity or collateral.

What’s more, Visconti notes, “Asking for credit is a cultural issue.” CFE operators “need consultation so they can be involved and ready to receive credit,” she says.

The IDB project, called Support for Forest Related Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises in Ejidos and Communities, proposes to bring the lenders and the borrowers to the same table to resolve these issues.

Since neither the CFEs nor the banks have a history of loans for lumber business development, $4.2 million of the project disbursement will go just to technical assistance and $1.8 million will go to loans.

 “It’s an innovative project,” Visconti says. “It’s not business as usual. If it was, it wouldn’t be part of the Climate Investment Funds,” she adds.

The Climate Investment Funds (CIF) were established in 2008 to provide scaled-up climate financing to developing countries, with the aim of creating new climate resilient, low-carbon development models. CIF funds are channeled through five multilateral development banks, including the IDB.

Though the Forest Investment Program, one part of the CIF, the Inter-American Development Bank is supporting Mexico’s Forest Investment Plan, including the pilot forestry project in Mexico, and similar projects in Peru and Brazil.

The Forest Investment Program aims to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, promote sustainable management of forests and enhance forest carbon stocks.

Mexico’s project “is expected to develop models for future global replication,” the approved proposal for IDB administration states.

FIRST PRIVATE-SECTOR LOANS

It is the first time that the bank’s Multilateral Investment Fund will work with the private sector in a project of this type, it notes, “and the lessons learned from its implementation will be important contributions to the national policy for the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD++) program currently being developed.”

Findeca, a private lender that has experience financing shade-grown sustainable coffee plantations in southern Mexico, has signed on to the project. It will be in charge of delivering the Multilateral Investment Fund money to the landholders.

It will kick in loans only after the non-profit Mexican Fund for the Conservation of Nature(FMCN) has rounded up the technical assistance and consultants to build community acceptance and capacity to use and repay loans.

“We’re still in negotiations for the project,” said FMCN spokesman Juan Manuel Frausto. He expects a final contract with IDB in September, after which the first step will be to identify an initial batch of communities to take part.

The project will focus first on five of the eight states with the highest net forest loss -- Oaxaca, Yucatán, Quintana Roo, Campeche and Jalisco. These states have 1,768 forestry communities with a total population of more than 500,000, average poverty rates of 75 percent and a 40 percent indigenous makeup.

The limited experience with private sector investment in Community Forestry Enterprises in Mexico requires the “demonstration approach” being taken in this project. The money will not start to flow until 2014, Visconti says. Loans will be in the range of $800 to $3,000.

The CFEs could use the micro credits to buy equipment such as tractors or inputs such as seeds “to facilitate efficient production and to make them more sustainable,” Visconti says.

The small amounts are viable for all but the largest and most sophisticated CFEs, Bray says.

“There are many forestry communities in Mexico who need additional support to improve their logging or to move into logging,” Bray says. “Community forestry is a very mature sector with lots of successes, and there are a lot of opportunities in communities that are struggling with lack of support,” he adds.

 

For more information, please contact:

Steven Shalita, CIF Communications

sshalita@worldbank.org

First Steps to Save Burkina Faso’s Forests
In the News | Jul 23 2013

Burkina’s $30 million FIP program will work in four regions of the country, each representing a different ecosystem. In addition to reducing emissions and enhancing stocks of carbon-storing forests, it is expected to have significant benefits in terms of poverty reduction, preservation of biodiversity, and adaptation to climate change.

Brazil's Indigenous Groups Take Reins of Green Projects
In the News | Jul 17 2013
An indigenous Terena man peels manioc under a shed at the Araribá indigenous reservation, 200 miles away from Sao Paulo.

By Rafael Spuldar originally published July 17, 2013 on Thomson Reuters Foundation. Photo: Rafael Spuldar/TRF

EKERUÁ, Brazil (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - On the Araribá indigenous reservation, 200 miles away from Brazil’s largest city of Sao Paulo, 20 Terena people work from very early in the morning peeling and washing manioc under an improvised shed. The crop is a traditional one for the Terena, and now part of their hopes for making a living from the land in a sustainable way.

With support from Brazil’s indigenous foundation and the Sao Paulo state government, the Terena have taken part in workshops  to learn to handle and process manioc more efficiently. The long-term goal is to use the extra income to support agroforestry projects, in which crop agriculture co-exists with forests – just as it did for many Brazilian indigenous groups before the arrival of the Portuguese colonizers in 1500.

This project should enable the Terena to finance reforestation through their own economic activity, with no need for direct government funding, the normal source of support for reforestation efforts in Brazil, experts say.

The project – one the 500-member Terena community chose themselves in local assemblies – is just one of a range of similar projects now taking place in Brazil, aimed at building the capacity of the country’s indigenous groups to participate in managing their livelihoods and the forests their territories often include. The aim is to build their resilience to climate change, and help them support efforts to slow or reverse deforestation, a major contributor to global warming.

One of the latest is the Dedicated Grant Mechanism for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (DGM), funded by the Climate Investment Funds (CIF). In Brazil, the effort is being implemented by the World Bank.

Over five years, the DGM will invest $6.5 million in Brazil with two goals. The first is to empower indigenous people throughout Brazil and to strengthen their institutions, particularly to participate in REDD+, an effort aimed at “reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.”

PROTECTING THE CERRADO

The second, more specifically, is to improve local capacity to sustainably manage natural resources in Brazil’s tropical savannah “Cerrado” region – South America’s second largest major ecosystem, located in Brazil’s central region and comprising 24 percent of the country’s territory.

According to Alberto Coelho Gomes Costa, the World Bank’s  Latin American senior social development specialist, the Cerrado is strategic in terms of environmental, economic and food security issues. The biologically rich region has significant carbon stocks, and is important to water cycles in the region.

But as agriculture expands in Brazil, the Cerrado has become even more threatened than the Amazon, and because it is less known it attracts less funding for protection, experts say.

“A significant proportion of forest burns in the Cerrado affect indigenous lands and traditional territories, especially in areas in contact with the Amazon”, said Gomes Costa. Altogether only about 10.5 percent of the Cerrado is protected, he said.

Under the DGM project, indigenous people are being consulted about what activities they would like to see financed on their land. A first meeting was held recently in the state of Mato Grosso’s capital of Cuiabá, and two more rounds are expected at Montes Claros (in Minas Gerais) and Imperatriz (in Maranhão) before a final meeting in Brasília.

According to Gomes Costa, the DGM is supposed to work in relation with Brazil’s own National Policy for Indigenous Environmental and Territorial Management (Política Nacional de Gestão Ambiental e Territorial de Terras Indígenas, or PNGATI), created in 2012 in order to guide all sustainability practices in indigenous areas.

The effort to improve manioc and forests at Araribá fits within that effort, and is supported by a program called Indigenous Environmental and Territorial Management Projects (Projetos de Gestão Ambiental e Territorial Indígena, or Gati), created by the National Indian Foundation (Fundação Nacional do Índio, or Funai), Brazil’s government branch in charge of monitoring and aiding indigenous peoples.

Through the Gati program, Funai aims to empower Brazilian indigenous groups so they can explore natural resources on their lands in a sustainable way and have financial returns without harming ecosystems.

ADDING VALUE

Four days a week, the Terena from Ekeruá – one of the four Indian settlements in the Araribá reservation – spend the whole morning working on the manioc in order to sell it to buyers that come by truck around noon.

At first they gather the manioc harvested that day on all of Araribá’s four settlements. Later, under a shed, they peel, wash and cut the manioc root, then wait for the buyers to arrive. Araribá’s manioc production is 2,500 kilos a day, four days a week.

“Some (of the Terena) come here to work at 5 in the morning. Many of them are relatives of mine, like cousins and uncles”, said Lourenço de Camilo, 38, one of Ekeruá settlement’s leaders and a manioc planter since he was a child.

Work facilities are precarious right now in Araribá, which hampers earnings. The improvised shed in which manioc is worked is expected to be improved soon. More modern equipment to process the manioc are expected soon as well, bought with resources from Gati , including machines to peel, wash, cut and wrap the product, and to recycle the peel for animal feed.

“To sell the manioc already clean, cut and wrapped would add value to it. It raises the selling price and we earn more,” Lourenço said.

The revenue from planting manioc in Araribá – as well as other products planted on a smaller scale, such as mangoes and sweet potato – makes the Terena hopeful they also will have funds to finance on their own a more ambitious, more profitable and more sustainable project: a rubber tree forest.

Around 2,500 rubber seedlings are already growing at Ekeruá. The process of grafting and planting the trees is expected in September 2014. In seven years the rubber-trees will be ready for “bleeding,” which is having their sap extracted for producing rubber – an activity much more profitable than manioc.

The Terena from Ekeruá also will have the option of planting the rubber-trees with enough room between them so that other plants – such as manioc, fruit trees and medicinal herbs – can also grow. Such inter-cropping would be a form of agroforestry.

The rubber project, with its higher income, would also enable the Terena to finance reforestation through their own economic activity, with no need of direct government funding, which supports much current reforestation in Brazil.

SOME RELUCTANCE

Indigenous groups throughout Brazil decide where to apply Gati’s funds in local assemblies. In the case of Araribá’s Terena community, some members initially were reluctant to invest in a long-term project such as planting a rubber tree forest.

“Indians want to have it all right away, they don’t like to wait”, said the Ekeruá settlement’s chief, Jazone de Camilo, 78. “But the way I see it, it’s like our savings account. It’s something that will be a good income source many years from now.”

Funai’s Jaime Siqueira, the national coordinator of Gati, says Araribá’s experience is a good example of what the Gati programme can achieve, as the Terena now have gained good technical expertise to help them push forward their project.

 “In other reservations we see less accumulated experience” so progress has been slower, he said.

According to Siqueira, 32 indigenous areas have benefitted from the program since it started in 2011. Total investment is around 60,000,000 BRLs ($26.5 million), of which 40,000,000 BRL ($17.6) has come from Funai and 12,000,000 BRL ($5.3) from the Global Environment Fund (GEF). The rest comes from Brazil’s Ministry of Environment and by partner non-governmental organizations such as German-based GIZ and The Nature Conservancy from the US.

Gati’s regional bureaus are not only in the Amazon – where most of Brazil’s indigenous reservations are located – but also in other regions in the South, Southeast and Northeast, as well as the Cerrado.

Siqueira says the work done so far is an example of how broader PNGATI goals might be implemented.

Nevertheless, the Gati project has its critics. Some Terena at Araribá’s Ekeruá settlement complain of bureaucracy and of the long wait until they have the much-anticipated equipment to process their manioc more quickly and efficiently. De Camilo, the settlement’s chief, said Funai has long since announced the purchase of the machines and no more time should be wasted.

 “We need this equipment so we can earn our money”, he said.

Funai’s Dafran Macário, who works as Gati project’s coordinator in the Southeast region, says that purchases like this take a long time because of their complexity and because of the way the federal government functions. He says the equipment will arrive at Araribá by September this year.

 

For more information, please contact:

Steven Shalita, CIF Communications

sshalita@worldbank.org

Beyond the Blame Game: Advancing Solutions to Deforestation
Reclassify | Jul 11 2013

Commentary By Andrea Kutter, Senior Program Coordinator, Forest Investment Program, CIF

Fires ravage a forest in Vietnam. - Photo: Shutterstock

Over the past few weeks, the media have prominently covered the massive forest fires in Riau Province, Sumatra Island in Indonesia; whose haze stretched to areas of Singapore and Malaysia across the Strait of Malacca.

The hype around the fires was justified. Their damaging impact was so serious that at one point the Pollutant Standard Index rose to 831, far above the normal range of 0-50. But little has been reported about the root causes of these fires. Instead, a raging blame game has ensued on who should take responsibility.  

These fires added urgency to the Tropical Forest  Alliance (TFA) 2020 workshop on Promoting Sustainability and Productivity in the Palm Oil and Pulp & Paper Sectors,” organized by the governments of Indonesia and the U.S., and the Consumer Goods Forum on June 27-28. Established as a solutions-oriented forum for the sustainable production of commodities with a zero-deforestation target, the TFA 2020 periodically holds workshops to develop business proposals in a particular sector with the goal of building viable private-public partnerships.

The expansion of palm oil plantations into natural forests and logging for producing pulp and paper are some of the most aggressive drivers of deforestation in countries like Indonesia. In my capacity as Sr. Program Coordinator for the Forest Investment Program(FIP), I was invited to participate in a panel on how public finance can support public-private partnerships to ensure a deforestation-free commodity chain.

In his opening remarks, the President of Indonesia, His Excellency Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, made direct reference to, and expressed his full commitment to stop the fires in Riau, Sumatra. But more importantly, he underscored his government’s pledge to protect the Indonesian forests and to work with all stakeholders, including the indigenous peoples and the private sector, to reduce the deforestation rate in Indonesia.

President Yudhoyono was joined by other high-level participants, including  His Excellency, Kunturo Mangkusubroto, Head of the President’s Delivery Unit for Development Monitoring and Oversight and Chairman of the Indonesian REDD+ Taskforce, and Mr. Paul Polmann, the CEO of Unilever and representative of the Tropical Forest Alliance 2020. Never before has such an extraordinary group of people come together to discuss palm oil and pulp and paper, commodities known to contribute to large-scale deforestation and forest degradation. 

No stranger to REDD+ or forest-related meetings dominated by the public sector, I was not surprised to see familiar faces from governments and organizations such as the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), and United Nations Development Program (UNDP).  

What made that meeting unique, however, was getting to know a  group I had not previously encountered: representatives from companies committed to the use of sustainable, traceable, and deforestation-free commodities for their products, including Coca Cola, Colgate, Unilever, the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), and Nestlé, just to name a few. Representatives from Google and the World Resources Institute also attended and demonstrated the latest technology to ensure the traceability of commodity chains. It was fascinating to see satellite images of Riau overlaid by concession boundaries; the hotspots were easy to identify.

For two days both public and private sector participants worked together on proposals to address causes of deforestation within the palm oil and paper and pulp industries. We discussed how to connect small and medium-scale oil palm growers to mills and ways to increase the productivity so growers are not tempted to extend their plots of land into natural forests.

There was great interest in the FIP’s competitive concessional funding of $50 million for innovative programs and projects that engage the private sector in reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and promote sustainable forest management. With the August 15, 2013 deadline for submitting proposals fast approaching, I am looking forward to seeing socially and environmentally responsible companies take on these types of investments to advance the goals of the TFA 2020 and help countries like Indonesia to avoid devastating fires such as the ones in Riau.

I was also energized and encouraged by the level of discussion and commitment expressed by this diverse group of people all focused on growers’ needs in terms of finance and capacity. The next TFA 2020 workshop will focus on other commodities driving deforestation, namely soy beans and beef. If commitment is equally high, the four most important commodities associated with deforestation—palm oil, pulp and paper, soy beans, and beef—could be produced under a very different yet convincing sustainable business model. I believe consumers would appreciate it, and the people of Indonesia and Singapore would certainly breathe easier.

Andrea Kutter, Senior Program Coordinator, Forest Investment Program, Climate Investment Funds
A physical geographer by training, Andrea Kutter has been since 2009 the Senior Program Coordinator for the Forest Investment Program (FIP) and the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (PPCR) of the Climate Investment Funds (CIF). Prior to that, she was the Senior Natural Resources Management Specialist in the Secretariat of the Global Environment Facility (GEF). She has also worked as a Technical Officer for Deutsche Gesellschaft für InternationaleZusammenarbeit (GIZ) in Argentina focusing on sustainable land management in dry zones, and she began her career in the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) working on Agenda 21 and land use planning.

Lao PDR is Scaling-Up Participatory Sustainable Forest Management
Press Release | Jun 10 2013

With a $12.83 million grant from the FIP, Lao PDR is moving forward with its project to expand community participation in forest management in priority areas and piloting forest landscape management in four northern provinces. Lao PDR’s 2020 Forest Strategy aims to improve the quality and quantity of forested areas and to generate a sustainable stream of forest products.

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